Wednesday, January 14, 2015


When a new year begins, I basically like to make the laziest resolutions possible, things that I know I would've done anyway, such as: I resolve to have a lot of fun this year. I resolve to savor each moment with my babies. I resolve to at least try to exercise, sometimes.

But, I do pay special attention to the transitional time, in my secret superstitious way, to try to get a feel for how the new year is shaping up. The first few minutes, hours, days, and weeks of the new year have a certain auspicious feel to them. While tidying up from the holidays and busying myself with the January birthdays, making fresh starts and going about family life, I am also paying attention to what the rhythms feel like, what the days seem to naturally offer. Whether people are in good moods or bad, myself included, what people are talking about, what kinds of general hopes we generate as a species, as little tribes, as families. Traffic, grocery store tellers, words I hear, repetitions, stories. These are things I like to note all the time, but they have a certain quality of import around the beginning of January.

This year in the back of my mind I have it that I want to be outdoors as much as possible. Not just this year, really, but it's more immediate right now, like, even though it's January I want to spend as much time as possible outside with my girls every day. This isn't purely for a nature-mama-earth-inspired reason. The truth is, in part, that my girls sleep much better if they've spend a good bit of the day outside in natural light. I also want to spend time outside even if it's raining or cold, bundled up of course, because it's just fun for the girls and I want them to grow up feeling adaptable and excited by all kinds of weather. We'll see about that if it ever starts raining again. (please oh please)

January 1, the year starts with animals gathering round our tree out front for all the peanut leftovers and birdseed: deer in packs of three, four, five and more, a squirrel party of peanut-seizing, and sparrows, bushtits, and bluejays in hordes. We have such fun watching them.

Then another river trip, Darin takes a short run and we bring a picnic basket and my identification guide. Rocks and sand in hands and mouth, dirty fingers and running legs, making friends with swimming dogs.

Almost every day has been nice enough to play in the backyard. They get dirty, muddy, a little bit wet, but I don't care. We've gotten to soak in some nice fresh vitamin D.

One night we had a bonfire, Lucy's request.

January 10: at Utah's birthday party we spend most of the afternoon playing outside at Grandma Vickey's ranch. She has all the fun stuff. 

After cake and presents, we spend sunset outside with the donkey and goats.

Pumpkin the donkey is getting so very old. We toss her her carrots so she doesn't have to teeteringly and shyly approach us.

A perfect evening.

We let the last chicken into the coop and then Ryann plays with Lucy and Utah in the leaves until it gets dark.

January 12: on our walk downtown we pass a big beautiful dead raccoon that has been hit by a car. We love him and he hurts my heart and I happen to know he's been there two days already and I can't stand it, so I call trusty Pops to pick him up and bring him to bury him in our yard.

Lucy is fairly unfazed by the dead raccoon but very interested in digging.

Polly wears her mushroom shirt from Fern.

Later. Nana comes over with more birdseed and we fill pans of water for the deer and squirrels since it's dry now. 

A lot of fun indoor stuff has happened too, but so far I haven't been so great at another of my lazy, back-of-my-mind goals: read more. So I think that's what I'll go do. 
Hope your days are filled with nature, beauty, and happy prospects for 2015!

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Christmas 2014 Round Up of Memories

I can't just let it go like last year. I didn't realize it until much later, but last year I never put up any pictures of Christmas eve, day, or the nearest festivities. Probably that traces back to the fact that I was just about to pop out a baby, but anyway, this year was really fun and endearing and warm and magical so I have to spend a little time enumerating some of Christmas 2014's many charms.

On Christmas eve eve, Nana brought over a special gift for Lucy: a sweet little apron that Nana made especially for her! Lucy likes to put on an apron with me every time she "helps" in the kitchen, so this was perfect.  

On Christmas eve, during Polly's nap, we put the new apron to work while making pine cone bird feeders.

She worked really hard getting the peanut butter nice and thick, gobbed into the nooks and crannies, and the birds and squirrels have been truly enjoying reaping the rewards.

A mist crept in on Christmas eve and it was nice and cold, as winter should be. (Not anymore but that's okay too. I've decided to work on a January tan) 

I wore a festive handknit Santa sweater that I borrowed from our etsy shop, and we hung the pinecones and strings of peanuts in their shells, and waited for our animal friends to find them. 

Christmas eve was really peaceful and Darin gave me one gift early: a beautiful farmers market Ghanaian basket. The girls took turns climbing into it and Lucy opened up one gift as well: a Berenstain Bears book that was perfect for bedtime. Polly stayed up late with Darin and I and showed off, doing funny tricks in the kitchen like crawling around on the floor as a joke now that she only walks, then crawling backwards and looking up at us slyly waiting for laughter. Darin goes, "Show us what else you can do! Can you jump?" and she promptly jumped on all fours, slapping the floor with her palms! She relished our reaction, of course.  

Christmas morning came all too early. I don't even think the girls understood what was going on, they just happened to wake up earlier than usual, on a night that I'd had very little sleep, but who can resist the excitement of Christmas morning?! Darin and the girls are used to hanging out for an hour or so while I sleep in, but naturally I didn't want to miss any of the excitement. So I hurried out of bed too, and we all went out to greet their new little play kitchen and steaming cups of coffee and birds going wild for birdseed outside the front window, and looking through the contents of our stockings!

Before my family arrived we got our Christmas dresses on, and Darin gave me my most important gift: our family DVD of video footage taken throughout the year. It is so fun to watch; I sit with rapt attention, and he peppers it through with songs and some fun editing so it really is a treat for me to behold. And to shed a few tears on Christmas morning. 

What a year it's been!!! The video started with last Christmas, when we only had one of these deliciously merry little sprites around. How rich and vital to watch a baby grow a full year, and the video also helps me remember to pride myself on all the fun we've had and all the sweet little ways this family has grown together. I was just telling Emily how I imagine myself impatient, grumpy, irritable, when really that is such a small percentage of the time. In the video I talk kindly and warmly all the time, even when I don't know the camera's on me. It made me feel more like the mom I hope to be!


Curlers in hair, cat on lap, Gunne dress on, (I deliberately wore the tent-style one so I could feast!) holiday music playing, babies playing together nearby, nice big healthy Christmas breakfast in belly, I'm content as can be.

We went outside and snapped a quick family photo....

and right then Joey and Em and Scout showed up, so they joined in for a bigger family photo!

This is Scout's customary face: jaw dropped, unabashed astonishment. Not sure if it's for theatrics's sake, or if she really is just utterly mind-blown much of the time. Probably a combination of both. In any case, she was pretty excited about these bubbles! Em says she shoots her this face all the time, and Em has to reassure her, yes, it really is this amazing here on earth!

Polly and Scout wore matching green velvet and lace. This was unplanned. They were little vintagey Christmas elves together all day,

And Em's cousin Katie stopped by in a green velvet coat with cream lace underneath, so for a while they were triplets!

Everyone arrived pretty quickly after that. Polly learned the words "moustache," and "beard" very well, and she and Matt have a little flirtation going.

Let the wild rumpus start!

Bella got her very own guitar!

My very cool nephew Jarom, 12, is a Brony, that is a boy who likes My Little Pony. He got the Pop! collectible of the dragon, Discord, and was pretty stoked about it. How I love to see that kid get excited, it's contagious.

This wooden cat crayon holder was a pretty brilliant gift on Amy's part. Both girls are obsessed with putting the crayons in the holes.

Nursing in the midst of it all.

This feeling is what it's all about: snuggled in between those you love, little conversations, shared moments, much to look forward to, fun things all around, and the coziest air of love and enjoyment all through the room.

Christmas night's dinner was not very organized, and although we had lots of great food, like my mom's enchiladas and chile relleno casserole, and Joey's fritatta, it came out in shifts and I wished I would've planned a little better, like Thanksgiving. In any case, we ended the evening full and happy, and I had that feeling when you just glow because you feel so unbelievably loved. 

Next day Darin had to work, but I spontaneously decided to brave a trip to the movie theater with the girls, where my mom and Matt and Amy were meeting up with a lot of her family, the Smiths, to see Into the Woods. Matt met us outside and paid for our tickets as a little Christmas treat. We had popcorn and candy, the whole bit, and despite my trepidation we had a blast! Lucy didn't think it was scary at all, and Polly just needed to tromp the aisles and the lobby a bit during the second half. I had lots of helpers and everything went smoothly on our second trip to the cinema. Lucy wore her new outfit from Matt and Amy too and I really think suspenders are her thing.

December 27 felt like the last true day of Christmas around here.

Relaxing, cousin-style.

That eve we had our Mikie-n-Marisa gift exchange. They missed Christmas day this year, but we saw no problem in prolonging the festivities. Polly enjoyed even more facial hair action, and this is one of my favorite photos from christmas.

Marisa gifted the girls the most amazing gift: all her meticulously cared-for MapleTown figures from her childhood. There is a bear family, bunny family, mouse, mole, dog, cat, and fox family. Each family has a mother and father and at least two children, in some cases a wee little baby. There is a mayor (lion) and a teacher (Miss Deer) and a bulldog police man, a treehouse playground and a pink house with floral couches, a mail truck and a big schoolbus. Each character has precise little clothes: vests, pants, dresses with aprons, jackets. The girls have gone nuts over this box of goodies, it is their absolute favorite stuff to play with, and we cannot thank Marisa enough for thinking of us as a new home for her sweet childhood friends.  

Then that night was kind of the finale to Christmas, the big holiday bash over at Rebecca and Zack's house. I put Polly to bed, and Lucy got to stay up  late with Nana watching Christmas movies. It was my first night out without the babes and I didn't last all that long but I had two beers and dressed up and felt pretty great! 

The only two babies there this year were Leo and Arlo, I was pretty drawn to the baby corner!

Doniella and Robin.

The night's big event is the white elephant gift excange; this one is massive and people get really competitive! About three quarters through it I got ahold of my mom and found out Polly was crying and she couldn't get her to stop so I jumped in the car and ran home. The night was ice cold and there was funk music playing in the car on the radio, and my heart was racing. I ran inside, took that baby in my arms and soothed her to sleep within minutes, my own pounding heart subsiding as well. My mom encouraged me to go back, if only for the group photo, so I did, but I had missed the infamous group photo and people were dispersing, still I got to join in a few last minutes of merriment. 

And Addie photoshopped me in.

Ahhhh, togetherness.

Hope you all had the merriest Christmastime ever. To quote one of our favorite Christmas songs around here: "Christmas day will always be, just so long as we have we."